By Kathleen Gilbert

TALLAHASSEE, Florida, November 7, 2008 ( – In a rare show of episcopal mettle, the bishop of Pensacola-Tallahassee swiftly sent VP-elect Joseph Biden a letter after he received communion on Sunday in the diocese, chastising him with “urgency” to examine his conscience carefully before receiving communion again.

Biden, who calls himself a devout Catholic, is an outspoken abortion proponent and as such has incurred automatic excommunication from the Church according to Canon Law.

The bishop witnessed to the Church’s teaching that “human life is to be respected from the moment of conception until natural death,” a principle of reason and of the common good that he called “knowable to all even beyond the categories of faith.”

While not explicitly condemning the VP-Elect’s reception of Holy Communion, Bishop John Ricard of the Pensacola-Tallahassee diocese reminded Biden that his policies reflect “a profound disconnection” from his obligation as a Catholic “to protect the weakest and most innocent among us: the child in the womb.”

Quoting the U.S. bishops’ 2004 document Catholics in Public Life, Bishop Ricard recalled the words of St. Paul to warn that, “‘Whoever … eats the bread or drinks the cup of the Lord in an unworthy manner will be guilty of profaning the Body and Blood of the Lord.'”

The U.S. bishops had explained, using St. Paul’s admonition as a reference, that “all must examine their consciences as to their worthiness to receive the Body and Blood of our Lord.

“This examination includes fidelity to the moral teaching of the Church in personal and public life … Respect for the Holy Eucharist, in particular, demands that it be received worthily.”

Bishop Ricard concluded his letter with the words, “I pray that the Catholic faith you have been raised in, the faith by which you pray, and the life of virtue which flows from both may strengthen you so that you may have the strength to … live by the virtue of fortitude as you proclaim your support to the Person of Christ in the most vulnerable of his members: the pre-born child.”

Sen. Biden has come under fire from Church leaders on several occasions during the election season for misrepresenting Church teaching as compatible with his pro-abortion agenda.

To read Bishop John Ricard’s full letter to Sen. Biden, go to:

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